Thanks for hosting me on Romance at Random. It’s great to be here, especially during my release week of Christmas Mayhem!
What images normally spring to mind when you think about Christmas and the holidays? Trees gorgeously decorated with glowing lights, eggnog, fantastic holiday meals with turkey and stuffing, chestnuts roasting by an open fire…the usual, wonderful stuff. What do I think of when it comes to the holidays? Smugglers, Quakers, decrepit manor houses with smoking chimneys, scandalous incidents in the ballroom, and hastily arranged marriages.
Let me back up a bit. As you can tell by the title, my newly released book, His Mistletoe Bride, is a Christmas-themed historical romance. But it didn’t start out as a holiday book. When I first began developing the plot, I envisioned taking the high concept of one of my favorite old movies and transporting it into the Regency era. That movie was High Noon, starring Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper. I thought it would be pretty cool to take a young Quaker woman from America and throw her into a marriage of convenience with a British aristocrat who’d been a soldier for years.
Lots of opportunity for conflict, especially when my hero and heroine found themselves confronted with dastardly smugglers using their estate as a route for dangerous smuggling runs. A Quaker and a soldier would have very different ideas on how to handle that little problem, and I rubbed my hands in glee thinking of all the trouble they would have to wade through to get to their HEA.
Then my editor suggested I write a Christmas book instead, a sexy and heart-warming tale that didn’t involve shootings, stabbings, kidnappings, or deportation to Australia. Gah!
Actually, I loved the idea, but I was determined to keep my Quaker heroine, my law-and-order aristocrat, and my smugglers. Those darn smugglers were staying in the book, no matter what! So I simply shifted the emphasis, transforming my dastardly, dangerous smugglers into an appealing, rascally band of locals who turned to smuggling to support their families. Hey, they’re still breaking the law and they’re still going to cause plenty of conflict between my peace-loving heroine, Phoebe, and my law-and-order hero, Lucas, as you can see in the following snippet:
Phoebe’s courage almost deserted her, but she had only one more hurdle to clear. Unfortunately, it was the biggest one. “I wish to speak to you about the smugglers.”
He raked a frustrated hand through his hair, making the thick locks stand straight up before they tumbled across his brow. “We discussed this, Phoebe. You are not to get involved.”
She held her hands up, palms out. “I am not trying to interfere, but I cannot help but worry. Both about you and the villagers. You must realize they fell into smuggling because of the wretched conditions in the village. Some people were actually starving, Lucas. What were they to do?”
“You think I don’t know that? It has been a bloody nightmare for just about everyone, which is one of the reasons why I’m emptying my pockets to get this estate back in working order.”
“I know. And that is wonderful, but in the meantime—”
“In the meantime I have already let it be known that any man who seeks an honest day’s wage can find it at the manor, no questions asked. I’m not a hard-hearted bastard, no matter what you might think about me.” He flung the last words at her like a challenge.
“I have never thought that,” she answered quietly. “I never would.”
I love a good conflict, don’t you? But don’t worry—there’s lots of holiday fun in His Mistletoe Bride, with parties, carolling, and hoisting glasses of Christmas cheer. And you can bet there’s a whole lot of kissing for Phoebe and Lucas under the mistletoe!
What are holidays like in your household? Are they full of peace, comfort, and joy, or are your crazy relatives and friends always getting into trouble?
Vanessa Kelly was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. You can find her on the website | Facebook| Twitter | Vanessa’s Blog